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'Nerve' portrays colorful, cautionary tale of cyberspace control

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"Nerve" | Niko Tavernise
Grade: A-


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JULY 28, 2016

Truth or Dare: A commonplace game that many resort to in an exclusive hiding spot during elementary school recesses, at a birthday party where the punch spiked a higher tolerance for foolishness than usual or on a night when we stumbled home with friends, swiftly impulsed with a desire to play.

Intensifying the amusement with an obsession for adrenaline and notoriety comes “Nerve,” an online game of Truth or Dare where the stakes are heightened. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman devise a twisted form of entertainment profiling crime and manipulation in this suspenseful thriller where the thirst for fame evokes a single question are you a watcher or player?

Based on a novel published in 2012, “Nerve” pivots around the life of high school senior Vee Delmonico (Emma Roberts) a talented, Wu-Tang loving photographer who is tired of living in the shadows of her wild best friend, Sydney (Emily Meade). In a spur of the moment decision to sign up as a player on “Nerve,” she faces her first dare: To visit a diner and kiss a stranger for five seconds. The acquaintance happens to be Ian (Dave Franco) a soft-spoken, intelligent fellow “Nerve” player with a nonchalant, yet charming demeanor and mysterious past. Chasing dare after dare for outrageous sums of money electrifying New York City’s illuminating landscape, the duo soon realize the life-threatening consequences the game provokes alongside a gut-wrenching understanding the only way to get out is to win.

In an interview for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roberts shares how technology has slid into people’s lives, consequently stirring an apprehensiveness towards the Internet. “What I found fascinating was that this game of ‘Nerve’ didn’t feel that farfetched,” she says. “You could believe that it totally exists.”

While the virtually compelling film whizzes through a cautionary tale outlining the disastrous consequences of online surveillance in the scope of one night, the underlying issues concerning the Internet depict social media as not merely a black-and-white picture, but a cultural phenomenon with breakthroughs and setbacks.

The film shares the exploiting nature of anonymity in a game where millions of online viewers pay to watch the escalating, corrupting effects of bankruptcy and stolen identities. Certain facets are also linked to “The Hunger Games” saga a fight to the death in the final round where watchers eagerly look on in a packed arena and Vee and Ian’s public display of affection, echoing Katniss and Peeta’s love story. With a cast including “Orange is the New Black” stars Samira Wiley and Kimiko Glenn, the movie exhibits an entertaining plot scheme while often sending flutters of laughs through an anxious audience waiting to see what happens next.

In one scenario, Ian is dared to ride his motorcycle at 60 mph while blindfolded with Vee holding on to him and taking the place of his sight, fortunately steering him to safety. At a party later that night, Vee is instructed to complete a life-threatening dare Sydney bailed on – walking across a ladder from one window to another. The exposure and insight into each player’s private lives is considered to have far greater worth than money, which symbolizes a deadly weapon of destruction and chaos. Although unfortunate, the contest thoroughly serves as a lightning rod comparison in society today a reminder that cyberspace continues to hold a great amount of power.

“Nerve” a colorful teenage dream high on whimsical adventures and first dates successfully sheds light onto the extreme realities of virtual online gaming in modern Internet culture. The game mirrors an inevitable reality, a heartbreaking truth that we are living in a world where “Nerve” likely prevails. That is, if we are not already playing.

Contact Mana Anvar at [email protected]. Tweet her at @manerzzzz.

JULY 27, 2016

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